After spending ample amounts of time diving in Dahab, Egypt, it was time for me to head to the ancient city of Petra in Jordan. Egypt, Israel, and Jordan have friendly borders so it is relatively easy to cross between the three countries. I made this journey after spending a few weeks in Dahab and the rest of Egypt. It is perfectly feasible to pass between these borders but there are small nuances that you must prepare for and note. This post will describe everything in thorough details!
Map of trip between Egypt, Israel, and into Jordan
Here is a map of the exact route to cross from Egypt to Petra. The journey begins in Dahab where I took a bus to Taba, the border town on the Egypt-Israel border. You can also start this trip from Sharm El Sheikh as well since the bus runs from Sharm to Taba (stopping in Dahab). From the border, you can use the Gett app to hail a taxi which will take you from the Egypt-Israel border to the Israel-Jordanian border for roughly 40-50 shekels. From the Jordanian side, there will be taxis waiting and ready to take you to Petra for set prices (roughly 70 JD).
Bus from Dahab to Taba
So the fun begins! Dahab to Eilat to Petra. Egypt to Israel to Jordan. The land route, in short, is done by traveling through the Sinai peninsula to Eilat, Israel, a taxi to the Israel/Jordan border, and then at the Jordanian border, taking a taxi or bus to Petra. It’s not a journey I’d recommend for the untraveled, nor for the unprepared, and certainly not for those strapped on time! But it’s totally worth it, just being able to spend some time in Israel.
Buses run from Dahab to Taba, a town right at the Egypt/Israel border at 9:30am. I paid 45 LE (~$6) for a one way ticket. The bus was late of course and while waiting, I was approached by a guy who may have been a taxi driver but I think it was just some guy with a car looking to make a quick buck, asking me if I wanted a ride to Taba. Because tourism has waned so heavily in this region of the world, this guy actually offered to drive me to Taba for the price I paid for my bus ticket! I thought about it but ended up going with the bus.
The ride was about 2.5 hours, going through some really barren landscapes, stopping at the not so occasional president mandated road blocks for safety reasons. This is pretty much everywhere in the Sinai region nowadays.
When I arrived in Taba, I proceeded to walk the remaining half km to the border post. The Egyptian border side was a breeze to clear, but the Israeli side was an entirely different story.
Taxi from Dahab to Taba
Taxis are very cheap in Egypt so if you don’t want to deal with a bus, a taxi is not that much. Expect to pay 300-400 LE for a one way transfer from Dahab to the border.
Clearing Israeli Customs
Okay, I’ve been to many countries, while visiting some very obscure places in Africa. The Israeli customs was the most difficult I’ve ever come across. They are notorious for their random interrogations of people. I was asked why I had a British working visa, what I was doing in Tunisia, what day I stepped foot into Zambia, and god knows what else. And this is after they asked me why I wanted to go to Israel, and to which I replied, “I am only coming to Israel, so I can cross into Jordan”. Even with this answer, I still spent a solid 10-15 minutes being interrogated by the immigration officer.
After (finally) crossing into Israel, I immediately noticed the stark contrast between life in Israel and life in Egypt. Taba was mostly a rundown place, not unlike some townships I saw in Africa. Israel, specifically Eilat looked like a beach resort town that would give the nicest beachside towns of America a run for their money. Eilat and Taba are so close to each other, you can see one city from the other.
Transiting through Eilat, Israel
After crossing the border, I expected some taxis to be waiting but got nothing. After waiting unsuccessfully, I began aimlessly wandering towards the city. Eventually, I stopped and asked for some directions and one of the locals was nice enough to flag a taxi down for me. I paid the guy 50 shekels (~13$) to the Israel/Jordan border which seemed steep considering it wasn’t that far but I was in no position to argue given where I was. He did take me to get some lunch first as I was absolutely starved. Turns out, of all the shawarma I had in the Middle East (Tunisia, Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Turkey), Israel had the BEST. Absolutely delicious.
Nowadays, it’s possible to use the Gett app to hail a taxi from the border. You’ll need to have cell phone reception however as there is no wifi at the border crossing.
Crossing the Israel-Jordan Border
Upon reaching the Israel/Jordan border, I proceeded to be interrogated AGAIN by Isralie customs. I mean really? I even told the guy, “All I’ve done in Israel is pass through so I can go to Jordan” and he still asked me questions about my passport. I mean how sketchy can a guy with an American passport, that’s been in your country for less than 1 hour just so he can eat some Schwarma really be? They are serious about their borders, which I suppose I can’t blame them given all the geopolitical issues surrounding the country.
If you’ve visited countries like Lebanon or Iran, they may deny you entry, or at the very least interrogate you for hours. On my way back, I was traveling with two Mexican guys, one with a Lebanese last name because his great-grandparents immigrated to Mexico. He was stopped for two hours!
Lastly, there is an exit tax, even if you’ve only been in Israel for 1 hour, of 100 shekels (~$27). This must be paid in cash using shekels or US Dollars so you’ll need to find an ATM while in Eilat if you are not carrying USD.
Taxi to Petra after crossing the Israel-Jordan border
Once reaching Jordan, there are two options to reaching Petra, taxi or bus. A taxi ride is approximately 50 JD (~$70). Steep price yes, but it is almost 2 hours driving. There is a sign here that lists the official rates for taxis from the border to various points of interest in Jordan so you don’t need to worry about being ripped off. These rates will constantly be changing so it’s likely the price you pay will be different than what I did. Taxis and transportation is not cheap in Jordan which was a shock after coming from Egypt.
There are local group buses that leave from Aqaba to Petra but they usually stop running in the early afternoon. These are cheap (~5 JD). The border post is located in the middle of nowhere though so a taxi from the border post to the bus station is necessary at another 10 JD (~$14). I had arranged a taxi with my hotel so the guy was already waiting for me at the border post.
One benefit of traveling by land to Jordan, is there is no visa fee whereas flying into Amman or crossing the King Hussein bridge in the north would have yielded a visa fee.
Total costs for the trip
For a one way trip from Dahab to Petra will cost the following. I will convert everything to USD as well since there are three currencies happening and expect this USD price to change as currencies fluctuate.
Bus from Dahab to Taba: 50 LE ($3 USD)
Taxi from Egypt-Israel border to Israel-Jordan border: 50 shekels ($13 USD)
Israel Departure Tax: 100 shekels ($27 USD)
Taxi from border to Petra: 50 JD ($75 USD)
Total: ~$120 USD
All in all, a one way transfer will cost about $120 USD. Note that if you plan to come back to Dahab, you will need to pay the Israeli departure tax again (when you exit from Israel to Egypt), as well as an additional $20 USD visa fee for entering Egypt again.
Hour by hour breakdown from Dahab to Eilat to Petra
Here is the hour by hour breakdown of the day:
10:30 – Bus from Dahab to Taba
13:00 – Arrive in Taba, walk to the border
15:00 – Takes a long time to cross the border but finally in Israel
16:30 – After lunch, arrive at the Israel-Jordan border
17:00 – Through to the Jordanian side of the border where I meet my taxi
19:00 – Arrive in Petra, Jordan for the night
By Ferry from Egypt
This was my initial plan as there is a ferry that goes from Nuweiba (40 minutes north of Dahab) to Aqaba, a port town in Jordan. This ferry ride is roughly 3 hours and runs daily. From Aqaba, taxis will then take you to Petra and Wadi Rum. This method will save a few hours for sure and works out to be about the same price. You’ll need to get from Dahab/Sharm El Sheikh to the northern port town of Nuweiba which can be done by bus for 15 LE. Alternatively, your guesthouse or hotel can arrange private transfers and this should be no more than 200 LE one way.
The ferry as of 2018 runs regularly and costs $75 USD one way from Nuweiba to Taba. From Aqaba, you can take a taxi to Petra for around 70 JD one way, or take the local bus for around 5 JD. By taking the ferry, you can avoid Israel entirely which will save you on the exit tax ($27 USD), the taxi ride between the two borders ($13 USD), and the interrogations at the border.
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